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Cowboy 3 electric bike review: better safe than sporty

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Cowboy 3 electrical bike overview: higher protected than sporty

Cowboy has returned with its third-generation e-bike. It’s nonetheless the best-looking pedal-assisted electrical bike with a detachable battery that I’ve ever seen having carried ahead the identical bodily design as the unique Cowboy. Whereas the Cowboy 2 from final yr was sporty, the Cowboy 3 is mature, specializing in security quite than enjoyable.

The Cowboy 3 is fitted with quite a lot of security options together with computerized crash detection, a slower prime pace, and new puncture-resistant tires of Cowboy design. Model three, just like the earlier mannequin, additionally has built-in lighting, with a rear mild that flashes purple when braking. And consider it or not, Cowboy’s lastly making fenders.

It’s as if this Belgian startup desires to develop into the Volvo of e-bikes. Not that that’s a nasty factor.

The headline function is computerized crash detection, which the corporate calls an trade first. It’s accessible on each Cowboy 3 and older Cowboy 2 bikes through a free software program replace. Crash detection works by analyzing knowledge collected from the wheel’s pace sensor, torque sensor, and accelerometer to find out if a crash occurred. The corporate says it could inform the distinction between a crash and emergency braking, dropping your bike on its aspect, hitting a pothole, or driving over cobblestones.

If a crash is detected, the rider has 60 seconds to substantiate they’re okay within the app, or else the SIM card built-in into the Cowboy e-bike sends an alert to 1, or each, of your predefined emergency contacts. It additionally sends alongside a real-time map displaying the rider’s place measured by the bike’s GPS radio.

I used to be capable of simulate a crash with the assistance of a tender sofa. After dropping the bike whereas holding the brake and urgent down on a pedal, the entrance and taillights began flashing quickly to attract consideration to the world. On the identical time, a textual content message was acquired by my emergency contact saying I “might need been concerned in a motorcycle accident” with my approximate avenue deal with and a hyperlink to a reside map displaying my exact location. I can think about this being a helpful and even life-saving function if crash detection performs this effectively in real-life situations. In any other case, false alarms might create lots of stress for family members (Cowboy claims a false optimistic fee of “near zero”).

Detachable battery and future on / off.

250W single-speed rear-hub motor.

Rear mild flashes when braking.

Smartphone required.

One other security function was added by taking one thing away: off-road mode, a setting meant for driving Cowboys on non-public property. Cowboy e-bikes at the moment are capped on the European restrict of 25km/h (15.5mph). Beforehand, Cowboy’s off-road mode sneakily boosted the pace cap to 30km/h (19mph) to enhance the e-bike’s sporty driving place. In observe, I think about that many, if not most, Cowboy house owners used that mode on a regular basis. I certain did, particularly when past the town limits the place I usually bike between 25-30km/h. I actually missed the sooner, extra thrilling mode in my testing. I’m advised that Cowboy eliminated it for security and insurance coverage causes: Cowboy affords house owners Easy Rider insurance plans beginning at €8 per thirty days for theft or €10 per thirty days so as to add injury protection.

The Cowboy 3 does have a free Discover My Bike function that makes use of GPS and Bluetooth to assist find your bike. However you’ll must pay not less than €8 per thirty days to obtain theft detection notifications. The anti-theft safety kicks in two minutes after the Cowboy is locked. Then, every time your bike is jostled, presumably by a thief, it’ll ship an alert to your telephone displaying the reported GPS location. The bike can then be tracked with the assistance of the (excellent) Cowboy app with Bluetooth permitting you to hone in in your bike with higher precision.

My take a look at bike had theft detection enabled and it labored for probably the most half. When enabled, the bike’s lights flash briefly (there’s no siren or warning sound) and the alert arrives shortly within the app. You’ll be able to then ignore it or hit “Discover My Bike” and take your possibilities with confronting a would-be thief or somebody who innocently bumped your bike within the shared bike rack.

As for the journey, Cowboy’s personal silent 250W rear-hub motor coupled with a brand new, longer-lasting Gates Carbon Belt drive and decrease gear ratio produces a extremely intuitive expertise. Energy is delivered as quickly because the bike detects strain on the pedal for easy getaways within the flats, after which the bike’s pace and torque sensors continuously alter energy supply as your tempo and pedaling change. After I examined it on hills, nevertheless, I felt the bike lacked the vertical oomph delivered by different single-speed belt-driven bikes like Gogoro’s Eeyo 1S, requiring extra exertion than I anticipated. Nonetheless, total the Cowboy continues to ship considered one of, if not probably the most pure pedal-assisted journey experiences of any e-bike I’ve examined.

My vary take a look at delivered 70.5km (43.8 miles) from the 360Wh battery, which is precisely consistent with Cowboy’s “as much as 70km” declare. Better of all, that battery will be eliminated and brought inside for handy charging. The bike continues to be rideable with a lifeless battery, however many will wrestle to pedal a 16.9kg / 37-pound bike over lengthy distances with only a single gear.

Sadly, the Cowboy requires a companion telephone as there’s no energy button on the bike itself. More often than not, this gained’t be an issue, but it surely solely takes one lifeless telephone battery after a protracted night time out to appreciate how short-sighted this strategy is.

New this yr is an computerized startup possibility that makes use of Bluetooth to detect while you’re close by. It really works as long as the app is working within the background. The brand new function means you may go away your telephone in a pocket or bag while you’re able to journey. In observe, it really works fairly effectively: the bike sensed me approaching after which required me to maneuver it a little bit to really flip the motor on. The bike will also be set to show off mechanically, or not, after a interval of inactivity, supplying you with an opportunity to lock it up with a sequence (or two) and stroll away with out triggering the anti-theft alerts.

Cowboy is engaged on a function that permits you to activate the bike by eradicating and reinserting the battery. It was initially promised final yr, however I’m advised that it’s undoubtedly coming by the top of 2020.

The final massive function for Cowboy house owners is the free Cowboy Cellular Service. Whereas below the two-year assure, Cowboy will ship a technician to your private home, workplace, or locations in between to restore your bike. The CMS service is presently accessible in 25 European cities, increasing to 70 by the top of the yr, Cowboy tells me. Rad Energy, for instance, affords an identical service however fees a charge for every use.

Different observations:

New function will route you round areas of poor air high quality.

  • Cowboys don’t have throttles — they’re pedal help solely, and it’s both on or off, with out energy choices like eco or sport discovered on different e-bikes.
  • The spongy grips, inventory saddle, and vast puncture-resistant tires of Cowboy design did a positive job of gobbling up street vibrations, even on the bumpy bricked roads frequent in Amsterdam.
  • The Cowboy app will quickly, by early October, inform riders concerning the air high quality within the space and counsel the least polluted route.
  • Cowboy 3 is now accessible in two shades of grey to go together with the black mannequin.
  • The LEDs within the battery meter on the highest tube will be set to shiny or dim and are largely seen within the solar in shiny mode.
  • The Cowboy emblem above the battery meter isn’t an influence button, but it surely needs to be.
  • Cowboy 3 weighs 16.9kg / 37 kilos, 4 ounces, making it about 900 grams heavier than the Cowboy 2 due primarily to the beefy new tires. The mudguards add some extra, undisclosed weight. It’s additionally made to suit comparatively tall riders, measuring 170 to 195cm (5 toes, seven inches to 6 toes, 5 inches).
  • Battery fees in about 3.5 hours.
  • Hydraulic disc brakes cease the bike with confidence.
  • The Cowboy app is without doubt one of the finest within the enterprise with its clear format and options that make sense.

The Cowboy 3 is priced at €2,290 / £1,990 (about $2,665). That’s €300 greater than each final yr’s Cowboy 2 and VanMoof’s comparable S3 and X3 commuter e-bikes. However with a VanMoof, the worth consists of fenders, that are an €89 possibility from Cowboy, and a kickstand, which Cowboy doesn’t provide in any respect. At the least Cowboy now ships its bikes with bells. Understanding that you simply’ll get a detachable battery, free cellular repairs, and free crash detection helps make the Cowboy’s price ticket a little bit simpler to simply accept.

The third-generation Cowboy is obtainable in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Spain, the Netherlands, and the UK, with Denmark within the works. US gross sales will occur sometime, however proper now, the European e-bike market is ten occasions the US market, says Cowboy, so it’s not in a rush.

Cowboy’s clearly been busy placing the €33 million in funding it’s raised since 2018 to good use so as to add and enhance options whereas sustaining a tempo of sluggish and regular enlargement. Cowboy 3 is a superb electrical bike, made higher by means of a collection of free and subscription-based providers that ought to add actual worth over the lifetime of the bike. However I can’t assist however assume that it’s a little bit confused.

The geometry places the rider right into a sporty driving place but its prime, pedal-assisted pace has been decreased by 17 % from final yr’s mannequin. And it’s bought as a metropolis commuter however lacks city requirements that needs to be included as customary parts. The Cowboy 3 jogs my memory of a school graduate, torn between the recklessness of youth and the stodgy calls for of the company world, realizing that rising up is inescapable.

Images by Thomas Ricker / The Verge

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